HC Deb 27 April 1897 vol 48 cc1133-5
MR. J. M. MACLEAN (Cardiff)

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if, war having been declared between Turkey and Greece, coal in a neutral bottom intended for Turkey or Greece is contraband of war; if coal in a Greek or Turkish bottom intended for Greece or Turkey is contraband of war: and, if coal in a Greek or Turkish bottom intended for a neutral State is contraband of war?


I am afraid that I can only reply to the hon. Member in the same sense as in replies to similar Questions that have been addressed to Her Majesty's Government on previous occasions. It would be ii dangerous and unusual course for Her Majesty's Government to attempt to define by a general statement what is or is not contraband of war. Coal has been held not to be contraband as a general rule, but it is possible that it might in certain cases become so.


wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether in case of war the question of what was or what was not contraband of war was not one exclusively for the Prize Court to determine?


I always refrain from expressing any opinions in this House upon questions of international law. ["Hear!"]


I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether his attention has been called to a statement in The Times newspaper of yesterday (26th April), in which their special Correspondent, writing from Pentepigadia Pass, asserts that the Turks killed and mutilated all the Greek wounded who fell into their hands; and whether he is able to confirm or disprove this assertion?


I have seen the passage referred to, but we have received no official information with regard to the allegation. May I add in reply to this and similar Questions, of which the hon. Member himself put two to me yesterday, that it is impossible for the Government to have any official information of detailed incidents at the scene of war, as they have no representative on the spot.

MR. F. A. CHANN1NG (Northampton, E.)

asked whether, considering the serious nature of the allegation which had been made by The Times Correspondent, the Government intended to inquire into its truth?


I am afraid that it lies outside the scope of Government duties to inquire into the accuracy of all the various statements on one side or the other that appear in the newspapers. ["Hear, hear!"]


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, according to the theory of the Government—[Cries of "Order!"]


Order, order!


I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) whether any and what notifications have been issued by the two belligerent Powers, Greece and Turkey, relative to neutral flags and neutral merchandise; (2) will such Power respect the enemy's flag unless carrying contraband of war; and (3) can he state whether corn and other articles of food will be deemed neutral or contraband?


The Greek Minister notified to Her Majesty's Government on the 21st instant that orders had been given to the Hellenic land and sea forces in conformity with the Declaration of Paris of April 16th 1856. No notification on the subject has been received from the Turkish Government, but they are parties to the same declaration, and may lie equally expected to observe it. In answer to the second paragraph, Turkey and Greece Mould presumably respect neutral goods in enemy's vessels with the exception of contraband of war, and as regards the latter, Her Majesty's Government have uniformly declined to define it.

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